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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gang of Four’s Content not quite worth the wait

    The last time British post-punk pioneers Gang of Four released anything was 2005’s Return the Gift after the original members came back together in 2005. The album featured re-recordings of the best songs from the band’s catalog. In interviews, band members claimed they wanted to re-record the songs because they hated how the drums sounded in the original recordings. They also wanted to have the songs reflect their live sound.

    In the wake of bands popping up throughout the past decade and taking their cues from post-punk, a more convincing argument could be made that Gang of Four wanted to show the kids how it’s done.

    The band, which now consists of founding members Jon King and Andy Gill and a new rhythm section, has released Content, its first original album since 1995’s Shrinkwrapped. “”She Said ‘You Made a Thing of Me'”” opens Content with a tense, unnerving buzzing sound and lyrics about a disconnected relationship and objectification. Gang of Four continues riffing on many of the same themes in Content that could be found on earlier albums: relationships, politics, identity, the media and religion.

    Many of the songs feature memorable lines bearing on these themes. “”Who Am I?”” has “”Who can lie when everything is true? Who wants old when everything is new? Who am I when everything is me?”” When King and Gill trade lyrics, the results can be great, as in the political polemic “”Do As I Say.””

    After Gang of Four first disbanded in 1984, Gill made a reputation as a producer and he brings that experience to Content, with mixed results. The guitars are still jaggedly sharp and the drums don’t sound as if they were buried in sand. Everything is clear and in its right place. But there are some unfortunate choices, like random R&B backup singing in “”I Party All The Time”” or the vocoder in the downbeat “”It Was Never Gonna Turn Out Too Good.””

    Content won’t necessarily satisfy many ardent Gang of Four fans, especially if they are looking for a supple rhythm section. But given that reunions from seminal bands can turn disastrous once returning to the studio, Gang of Four has done well in adjusting to an era where the media has been usurped by social media.

     

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